Piety and Nationalism

Piety and Nationalism: Lay Voluntary Associations and the Creation of an Irish-Catholic Community in Toronto, 1850-1895

Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Piety and Nationalism
    Book Description:

    While the role of the laity in the nationalist awakening is commonly recognized, their part in the movement for religious renewal is usually minimized. Initiative on the part of the laity has been thought to have existed only outside the church, where it remained a troubling and at times insurgent force. Clarke revises this picture of the role of the laity in church and community.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6436-7
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    “Let each say in his heart,” declared Bishop Ignace Bourget of Montreal, ‘“I hear my cure, my cure hears the bishop, the bishop hears the Pope, and the Pope hears Our Lord Jesus Christ.’”¹ Such was Bourget’s understanding of the laity’s role in the Roman Catholic Church, and during the middle decades of the nineteenth century this view was increasingly shared by a clergy whose outlook had been shaped by the revival of ultramontanism. Ultramontanes adopted a hierarchical and centralized model of the church in which the papacy in Rome was the true foundation for right belief and practice. Power...

  6. 1 The Irish in Toronto
    (pp. 13-30)

    In early Ontario, the arrival of the pre-famine Irish resulted in an Irish population whose religious composition and pattern of settlement were very different from that found in the United States. Before the 1840s, two-thirds of Ontario’s Irish were Protestant, and the vast majority of the Irish, whether they were Protestant or not, settled in rural areas. Moreover, since most of Ontario’s Irish arrived before the Great Famine of 1845-49, the religious composition of the province’s Irish population and the rural nature of their settlement remained much the same despite the influx of Irish immigrants during and after the famine.¹...

  7. 2 Reform of the Roman Catholic Church
    (pp. 31-44)

    The reform of the diocese of Toronto was initially an outgrowth of the Lower Canadian Catholic revival in the 1840s, which itself was part of the international movement of renewal known as ultramontanism.¹ This reform had three goals: establishing episcopal authority, creating a professional clergy, and “devotionalizing” the laity. Internal reform of the church was to result in the consolidation of the bishop’s authority over his clergy, thereby giving him control over the local parish. Besides extending the bishop’s authority, church reform also brought about an effective change in the standard of clerical behaviour, reorienting the clergy along professional lines....

  8. 3 Renewal
    (pp. 45-61)

    Under the leadership of the ultramontane reformer, Bishop Charbonnel, the Catholic Church in Toronto effected, to use Emmet Larkin’s term, a devotional revolution, a dramatic change in the nature of popular religious practice. The performance of canonical obligations such as Sunday Mass became more regular, and devotions recently authorized by the papacy — the rosary, theQuarant’Ore, the stations of the cross, and the benediction of the Blessed Sacrament - became part of the devotional repertoire of the laity.¹ These forms of piety so marked the style and ethos of lay religious practice that the Catholicism of this era can...

  9. 4 The Parish and the Hearth: Women’s Confraternities and the Devotional Revolution
    (pp. 62-96)

    In latter part of the nineteenth century Canadian Protestant women joined in unprecedented numbers a wide variety of voluntary associations, such as benevolent, missionary, and reform organizations, of which the best known are the Young Women’s Christian Association and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.¹ During the same period, Catholic women became involved in associations of their own. Although these associations were fundamentally different from those of Protestant women, they were similar in two important respects. Both had a religious impetus and both profoundly affected the larger cultures of which they were a part.²

    In contrast to the diversity of aims...

  10. 5 “To Bribe the Porters of Heaven”: Salvation, and the Vincent de Paul Society
    (pp. 97-126)

    Although the clergy had been able to effect a devotional revolution among Irish-Catholic women, largely through the influence of the parish confraternities, Irish-Catholic men had remained aloof from the parish devotional organizations. Perhaps the Roman Catholic Church’s most notable instrument to inculcate the new devotional practices among Irish-Catholic men was the Saint Vincent de Paul Society. Founded in 1833 by Frédéric Ozanam for practising Catholic men over the age of eighteen, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society was an integral part of the nineteenth-century revival of French Catholicism. Although well known for its acts of charity, the organization was primarily...

  11. 6 “Heroic Virtue”: Parish Temperance Societies and Male Piety
    (pp. 127-151)

    The small size of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society’s membership illustrated the difficulties that any parish organization dedicated to devotional purposes faced in recruiting Irish-Catholic men. One way for the clergy to surmount this difficulty was to introduce voluntary organizations that emphasized secular pastimes and so establish an associational environment in the parish that would prove more amenable to Irish-Catholic men. Temperance societies were a notable example of this strategy. Given the importance of alcohol to male sociability, drink was a natural target for a clergy determined to reform the cultural life of Irish-Catholic men and to leaven it...

  12. 7 “A Pariah among Nations”: The Rise of Irish Nationalism in Toronto
    (pp. 152-167)

    In the classic work that has informed all subsequent studies of Irish nationalism in the United States, Thomas Brown argued that the roots of this nationalism lay in the Irish-Catholic experience of inferiority and estrangement in a new land where popular prejudice and economic insecurity were common occurrences. In other words, Irish-American nationalism was “directed chiefly toward American, not Irish, ends.” Such nationalism, Brown concluded, expressed Irish-Americans’ aspirations to social acceptance and, in particular, to middle-class respectability, the American dream of success.¹

    Brown’s ground-breaking work has engendered considerable debate among historians over the origins, constituency, and aims of Irish nationalism...

  13. 8 “Loyal Hibernians?”: Feniansiam,and the Hibernian Benevolent Society
    (pp. 168-198)

    During the late 186os, “there were no more loyal citizens of the various colonies of British America than the Irish Catholics,” W.L. Morton has observed.¹ Canadian historians have generally agreed that Irish-Catholic loyalism precluded widespread sympathy for Fenianism among the Irish Catholics of Canada.² Canadian Irish Catholics, Hereward Senior declared in an article written in 1967, “were, for the most part, indifferent to Fenianism,” an impression that his more recentThe Fenians and Canadahas done little to change.³ In his sweeping survey of Irish nationalism in Victorian Canada, Peter M. Toner questions whether these long-held generalizations faithfully reflect the...

  14. 9 “The Sacred Cause and the National Faith”: The Resurrection of Irish Nationalism
    (pp. 199-223)

    Following Bishop Lynch’s denunciation of the Hibernian Benevolent Society in 1865, the Fenian raids of 1866, and the assassination of Thomas D’Arcy McGee in 1868, radical nationalism lost much of its former influence among Irish Catholics in Toronto. Yet within three years the Hibernians had achieved a reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church and had regained public support in the Irish-Catholic community. This turnaround in the fortunes of radical nationalism was the result of four profound changes in the character and organization of Irish nationalism in Toronto. First, radical nationalists moderated their stance significantly. Second, this shift in emphasis enabled...

  15. 10 New Departures
    (pp. 224-253)

    During the 1880s and the 1890s Toronto’s Irish-Catholic population underwent a significant generational change. From being primarily a first-generation, immigrant population, the Irish-Catholic community became one in which the Canadian-born predominated.¹ As one might expect, this demographic development was accompanied by a shift from a militant form of ethnicity to a more conciliatory version in which Catholicism eventually displaced nationalism as the badge of ethnic allegiance. That change in Irish-Catholic selfdefinition, in turn, went hand in hand with a dramatic reorganization of associational life that saw the independent nationalist societies being eclipsed by church-affiliated associations for men. Such an outcome...

  16. Conclusion
    (pp. 254-260)

    The Roman Catholic community in 1895 was a very different community from the one that greeted its second bishop, Armand de Charbonnel, in 1850. The Irish-Catholic community of 1850, composed mainly of recently arrived immigrants, and its lay associations and social institutions were in a rudimentary state. Even the Roman Catholic Church’s parochial organization was still anaemic. This organizational vacuum opened the way for the town’s small Catholic elite, many of whom were not Irish, to exercise lay initiative in church and community life. These lay men and women took a leading part in the administration of the parish and...

  17. APPENDIX: Occupational Categories
    (pp. 261-262)
  18. Notes
    (pp. 263-332)
  19. Index
    (pp. 333-340)